[Movie Review] The Dark Knight Rises

John Blake and his Amazing Friends guest staring Batman and Selina Kyle is not the best entry in the Chris Nolan Trilogy. While it may be loud and look pretty it falls several miles short of even Batman Begins territory. It falls and continues to pick it self back up because it tries to be something it’s not, it tries to be a super hero movie. Batman is not and never will be a super hero, he’s a vigilante, a man in a cape trying to one up the mountain that is Bane and after several attempts gets it right but did we really need to experience the journey?

While the Joker is never mentioned in this movie, the pedigree of the series comes back to The Dark Knight. And, the head scratching question: How do you try to top Heath Ledger’s Joker? Whether you liked the movie or not, Dark Knight set the bar for a realistic look at trying to be a vigilante on a millionaire’s budget. And Heath’s portrayal was perfect in my eyes. Rises vaults over the bar to launch itself into the stratosphere that is labeled aptly enough: Comic Book Movies. This stratosphere is filled with Marvel Movies and one of them, the Avengers has already pretty much set the bar for comic book movies.

The problem is Rises tries to be Avengers and fails. The use of the clean burning fuel I don’t think is a stab at Iron Man instead I think the writers tried to have Wayne tackle something that was monstrous and fail. This ongoing plot thread also involves Wayne Enterprises going down the crapper since Wayne and Lucius haven’t been talking.

Aaron Eckhart’s Harvey Dent foreshadowed most of this when he said: “You either die a hero or live long enough to become the villain.” Batman has become just that at the end of Dark Knight and one would expect a pick up from there.

But Chris Nolan, his brother and David Goyer take a different path: Bruce has dropped his cowl going on eight years due to the deaths of Rachel and Harvey. This is one of the problems with Rises is the passage of time. Dark Knight handled it pretty well but Rises drags when characters start rambling about how much time is left.

I’m going to ignore the central problem to the entire movie: Since when does Batman stop? Ever? I know the whole hiding in your mansion act may show the character at his lowest but I’d rather see him at his lowest in the Batman suit on the streets helping and getting shit on then just hobbling along as Bruce Wayne. He should be still fighting crime while be wanted by the Police until something bigger comes along in the form of Bane or Selina Kyle.

Show VS. Tell is the general argument I have with this movie. And, just so I don’t repeat other blog posters, Film School Rejects covers the other problems I had.

Instead, we get the messiest first act trying to re-introduce everyone at celebration of Harvey Dent Day at Wayne Mansion. 8 years after Dark Knight, Commissioner Gordon is dealing with lying to the public about how Harvey Dent is a hero and the Batman is a villain. Batman is gone and Bruce Wayne, now hobbling from injury is pulling a Howard Hughes and closed himself off from the world. Until Selina Kyle played by Anne Hathaway enters the picture and steals his mother’s pearl necklace she steals his finger prints.

Anne Hathaway pretty much saves this movie for me, I’m glad they went with her. Her screen time is used well enough, it would have been nice to see her suit up just for the reaction of her sidekick played by Juno Temple but instead little fanfare is given. She gives the cat burglar schtick enough to chew on thankfully. The suit works even if the high heels don’t. Paulie C would agree, heels won’t save you in Gotham but leather combat boots will. It nice to see they kept her sidekick from Year One somewhat intact.

Act One and Two hedge on one thing, bringing Batman back and a hostage scene at the Gotham Stock Exchange sets up the fall of Bruce Wayne. While the set up for these events are rather mundane, the payoff is seeing what new toys Batman has. The re-introduction of Batman into Gotham is only missing one thing: social media. Even a Twitter or Facebook scene with Gotham’s younger crowd would have expanded the universe just a bit more.

After Commissioner Gordon and the GCP run headlong into Bane played by Tom Hardy and his construction crew underneath the city. His replacement, Foley played by Matthew Modine can replaces him but like all replacement does more harm then good. The good news is Bane’s voice was change to something more intelligible from MI:4 IMAX.

Once Batman is out of the picture and Bruce is imprisoned, the movie gets too big for it’s own good. I followed the back and forth between Bruce’s prison and Gotham just fine, but the fact Gotham is sealed off from the rest of the world while it waits for its inevitable end just doesn’t make sense to me and I find it awfully hard to believe a major metropolitan city with one road in or out could survive on the line of food trucks we see.

Contagion has better disaster scenes, food hoarding and people revolting better than Dark Knight Rises could have ever done and that’s where the reality of this movie pops in again: Why the fuck is Bane and Co waiting for the bomb to degrade and go off in mere months?

At least I could follow the comic book set up in Begins with the poisoned water supply and the microwave to evaporate the water into steam and intoxicate everyone, I can follow that, it’s the let’s turn the tree hugging green reactor into a bomb and drive it around the city for days on end that makes no sense.

And amid all this Doctor Crane as a judge and jury during the trials for the 8 years of lies. It’s little things like this that make myself and my brother turn to each other and nod. The problem was: it’s little things. And, Christopher Judge from Stargate SG-1 playing a meanie was nice to see. It’s unfortunate he was taller than Tom Hardy and had to be shown with the smaller thugs.

As for Act 3, it’s a great act, shot in broad daylight. I did not mind Talia since it gave Marion Cotillard a character arc to work with. The only problem with the end was Avengers did it months ago and Tony’s heroism was great because he was always cracking wise.

As for wrapping up all the lose ends, Blake getting the bat cave was great, I’m ignoring the Robin comment because well, let’s face it, we just watched 7.5 hours of probably the best Batman vision ever, I’m giving Nolan some slack for not holding the mythos as close to the chest. The passing of the Bat mantle makes sense, it worked on Batman Beyond after all.

Now we just need to worry about what Warner Brothers is going to do next since Batman cartoons have been rebooted every 3 years or so, it’d be a crime to see Batman rebooted just for JLA hopefully if they’re smart they’ll keep the secret identities a secret and Joseph Gordon-Levitt will get a nice franchise to himself.

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